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  1. #1
    Rat's Avatar
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    Essential Outdoor knots

    A little over a year ago I posted a list of knots on the Yahoo Hammockcamping Group I consider to be "Essential Outdoor knots". My Grandfather taught me tons of knots. He was an old time honest-to-goodness cowboy and outdoorsman and he never ceased to amaze me at the number of things one could do with the right rope and a good knot. I can tie about 30 knots from memory, but the Essential Outdoor Knots are those that I find myself using most often and teaching to others who are along for their first trip. Generally they are easy to tie, easy to untie and have multiple uses.

    I have over the years added and subtracted various knots, replacing them with similar knots that are either easier to tie or untie, but serve the same purpose. I now call the list "10 Essential Knots for the Outdoorsman". With an addendum to a few other notable knots!

    10 Essential Knots for the Outdoorsman

    End knots: End knots are tied in the end of a cut rope to keep it from fraying. Whipping, melting or back braiding is considered superior, but when time is of the essence, these knots will do the trick. They may also be used for 'stopper knots'. Used primarily to stop the bitter end of the rope from slipping past a primary knot (for safetys' sake), but also used to stop the rope at a certain point when using a pulley or for measurement.

    Figure Eight
    Double Overhand (Ashley Stopper)

    Loops, or knots that form loops, are very numerous. Even the old standby, the Bowline, has many (5?) different variations. Some are better tied into the end of the rope and some are better in the middle (span) of the rope. The bowline and figure eight have variations for both needs. I leave off the 'Figure Eight on a Bight' for a reason. This is one of my favorite knots, cool to tie and it looks good lying along the rope when it is tied. But after it is loaded it can be a real bear to untie. So it gets an honorable mention, but that's it.

    Bowline
    Bowline on a Bight* Honorable mention, the bowline on a bight is a great way to make a hande in order to drag something, like a heavy log, or to make shoulder straps for pulling an injured person on a sled. It doubles the area of contact at the loop causing less hand pain and more purchase.
    Alpine Butterfly (Linesman's Loop)

    Bends, for joining two ropes, or the ends of one to form a loop.

    Double Fisherman's Knot* A variant of the Ashley Stopper described above.
    Sheet Bend and Double Sheet Bend

    Adjustable knots, like the Drivers' (Trucker's) Hitch and the Midshipmans' Hitch are worth their weight in gold.

    Trucker's/Driver's Hitch This hitch has many names, but this is the only way to tie it properly. You can also double wrap the bitter end to get a better mechanical advantage. Once wrapped three times or so the rope will generally grab and hold itself while you finish the half hitches, very handy.
    Midhipman's Hitch (Taught Line) This hitch also goes by many names, tent-line, tight-line and adjustable hitch ar just a few. It is actually a rolling hitch variant. The same hitch tied to a spar is a Rolling Hitch. Adding wraps under the half hitch will help it grab slick rope better, adding wraps above the half hitch will help it grap slick spars better.
    Prusik Hitch* Honorable mention: Technically a slide and grip hitch, but it has many uses around camp.

    Exploding Hitches. I use the Mooring Hitch, Exploding Clove Hitch and the Highwayman all the time. Very quick and easy to tie and untie. While I have used the Exploding Clove Hitch to suspend my hammock, I don't recommend it. The Mooring Hitch can be used to suspend a hammock as it is a sliding (adjustable), locking hitch that is easy to untie (exploding). The Exploding Clove Hitch is less reliable, but good when you need a quick grab on a line that will have steady tension on it. The Highwayman Hitch is great for hanging stuff from the ridgeline, like stuff sacks, or anything else you can add a short piece of cord to.

    Mooring Hitch
    Highwayman Hitch

    * Honorable Mention: Slackers. Rope too long? Don't cut it, use these handy hitches to take up that slack.

    Sheepshank
    Rope Chain

    Clove Hitch* Honorable mention: Excellent for holding the tarp side up when used in conjunction with a trekking pole or stick. Easy to adjust up or down as well, just pull a little slack and slide the whole thing. I have also used it to pitch my hammock with just the trekking poles although I used extra guy outs to stabilize the poles.
    Last edited by Rat; 10-17-2007 at 12:17. Reason: added Clove Hitch
    "I aim to misbehave." - Capt. Mal Reynolds
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  2. #2
    Rat's Avatar
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    Some good rope and knot web-sites:

    Rope Works

    Animated Knots by Grog* Very good web-site!

    Ropers Knots Page
    "I aim to misbehave." - Capt. Mal Reynolds
    Mind of a Rat Youtube Channel

  3. #3
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    Great post. Good subject and I love the animated knots site beats the pants off the old "diagrams" people usually use.

  4. #4
    hogn8r, what is your suspension? tree straps and rope? what knot do you use? just curious.

  5. #5
    nice thread by the way.

  6. #6
    slowhike's Avatar
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    great resources to keep at hand hogn8r. thanks.
    the "trucker's/driver's hitch" link wouldn't open up for me. any one else?

    i got a question for ya. when you talk about the bitter end of the rope, i'm not sure how to pronounce that.
    which of the following sentences (spoken in southern US dialect) gives the correct pronunciation?

    1) if she gets to close to that dog, he's gonna bitter.

    2) she got to close to the dog & he done went & bitter.

    ????
    don`t leave the CREATOR out of the creation!

  7. #7
    ha ha. i like it.

  8. #8
    Senior Member GREEN THERAPY's Avatar
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    good post .... For years the only knot I really knew was the double wrap ninny knot in all its variations. Could always be undone with a knife. As I progressed into the hammock setting up world the light went on... learn to tie knots that can be easily untied and still have excellent holding power.

    Have been working through the list of your 10 and do practice tying them in the dark or with eyes closed. The annimated site is the easiest to follow the progression of constructing a good knot.
    What I lack in knowledge I MORE than make up for with opinions.
    Green Therapy

  9. #9
    Senior Member headchange4u's Avatar
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    Great thread. Thanks for the info.
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it." -Terry Pratchett



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  10. #10
    Senior Member NCPatrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowhike View Post
    great resources to keep at hand hogn8r. thanks.
    the "trucker's/driver's hitch" link wouldn't open up for me. any one else?

    i got a question for ya. when you talk about the bitter end of the rope, i'm not sure how to pronounce that.
    which of the following sentences (spoken in southern US dialect) gives the correct pronunciation?

    1) if she gets to close to that dog, he's gonna bitter.

    2) she got to close to the dog & he done went & bitter.

    ????
    Slowhike, I believe it would be #2.


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